ESST Student Blog: University, Work, and Impressions of the Module 1
One difference (depending on the discipline as well) between a Bachelor and Master programme is the workload. Would I say the shift is significant between the Bachelor I have completed and now? Not only might it be too soon to say (I shall follow up with another post at the end of the first semester), but that depends on the person’s capacity (health, time management skills, intelligence, etc) as well as what they want out of the programme.
Alongside my study, I work as an editorial manager for an academic journal and as a student assistant for a research organization. Per week, I am contracted for a little under 14 hours but the work depends on a host of factors such as time of year, events, and so forth. I wouldn’t say that these two jobs consume my time to the extent in which it affects my school work but they do take up time and most importantly, energy, which I always seem to be running low on. This is my ‘normal’ so to speak. But should it be? Another post for another time perhaps about pressure, expectations, and performance.
Coming back to the matter at hand, the workload, the amount of readings assigned is not impossible, for me at least. I am a native English speaker with a background in philosophy and social sciences, two advantages I would say. I have been trained and have grown accustomed to academic language and the expression of complex, and more often than not, confusing ideas. I cannot for the life in me understand mathematics or programming but if you would like me to summarize some complex philosophical thoughts, I am your person. However, that does not mean I do not have my moments of head-scratching and angry-napping (look it up, it’s a thing).
With that being said, the first module, Introduction in Science, Society, and Technology Studies, packs a heavy punch in that it introduces you to the main and well-established theories, concepts, and approaches of STS. In addition to being complex content-wise, these theories, concepts, and approaches are situated in chaotic histories and debates, of which you will also learn of. While some ideas were easier to grasp that others, the expectation is not that you will become an expert by the end of the four weeks. It is primarily about ‘filling your toolbox’, i.e. equipping you with the ways of framing, understanding, and analysing science and technology’s relationship with society and vice versa. Some students might identify strongly with the principles of a specific theory and thus will invest their time in exploring and reading about it more thoroughly (and eventually incorporating it in their thesis). Others might re-examine all the theories before settling on one or a few. Though, there is no race to settle on any one. The ultimate aim is to broadly introduce the students to the main schools of thoughts, to show what is out there, how they are used, criticized, their strengths, limitations, and so forth. Does the course achieve this aim? Absolutely. Some students might be daunted by this theory-heavy course but there is nothing to worry about given that these theories will be repeated throughout the programme. They make up the language of the field, of which you cannot navigate without running into.
Finally, with regard to the assessments and grading, there are three components: participation, a position paper, and a final paper of a meagre 3,000 words in which I am free to choose a topic related to STS. There are no special criteria. I have not decided upon a topic as yet but I have some ideas swimming around (lay participation in debates and design of technologies, is an example). I will be sure to post the introduction or an extract of the paper (but only if it receives a good grade, haha) but to do this, I have to get to work!